C&O official is right where he wants to be

November 07, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART


With a history that includes a great-grandmother who rode boats along the C&O Canal to deliver babies, and a mother who still lives in the house he grew up in along the canal in Frederick County, it seems rather fitting that Robert H. Hartman Jr. be named deputy superintendent of the historic park.

On a recent crisp fall afternoon, Hartman was drawn to the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport to talk about his long history with the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

"I started with the National Park Service in 1978 right here at the Cushwa warehouse building as a mason intake trainee," he said.


That experience transformed journeyman craftspeople into preservation specialists who could professionally care for historic structures.

Later, he served as chief of maintenance at National Capital Parks-East in Washington, D.C., and as facility manager at Sandy Hook, a unit of Gateway National Recreational Area in New York. Hartman also served two long-term acting assignments as the unit manager of the Sandy Hook and Staten Island Units of Gateway.

"Then in 1994, I came to the C&O Canal as chief of maintenance," Hartman said. As deputy superintendent, he will be looking ahead, drafting plans for the canal's future as well as overseeing day-to-day operations.

"Currently, we are working on three major future projects," Hartman said. Those include the pre-design and repair of the towpath at Big Slackwater, between Dam No. 4 and McMahon's Mill.

The other two are finishing the rehabilitation of the Great Falls Tavern and the rewatering of the Cumberland Terminus.

In 1997, Hartman received the National Capital Region's award for outstanding stewardship of natural resources through maintenance operations. He served as acting deputy superintendent and acting superintendent on numerous occasions.

Hartman began his federal career in 1975 with the Public Works Department of the Navy at the U.S. Naval Academy. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966 until 1969, including 19 months in Vietnam with combat engineer units.

A native of Frederick County, he graduated from Frederick High School. He attended community colleges and the University of Maryland. His son, Rob, and his granddaughter, Faith, reside in Aurora, Colo. Daughter Julia and husband, Sam, reside in Russet, Md.

As Hartman strode around the Cushwa Basin, he took the time to talk with several volunteers. Stressing their importance, Hartman pointed out both his children served as volunteers on the canal when they were younger, continuing the Hartman family's life journey along the C&O Canal.

"I can't picture me doing anything else," Hartman said. "These are good people to work with."

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